“You’re a hard man to catch George,” said the gentleman.
“Is that you Zimmerman?” cried a startled George.
“I’ve been looking for you. I watched you at the Martinez home. Of course I couldn’t approach you then. I followed you while you were walking with Higgs.”
“So you heard…and it’ll be tomorrow’s headline in the Star. I guess now you can say I’ve paid my dues.”
“So they’ve come for me.”
“Yes, they’re on their way. As I understand it you’ve had many close calls.”
“Is that a fact?”
“I just know what I’ve been told. But George, please don’t follow my example. I faced a dilemma and took the easy way out.”
“Do you know when I came the closest to succeeding? But how could you know? I was just trying to lodge a complaint. Naked. In solitaire confinement. Screaming. Sure I was determined to stop up the toilet with my underwear. Nothing else but a collision of turds. Turds. Thoughts. Turds. With the cameras there was no such thing as privacy. Kicking and screaming and thinking they’d better give me a wide birth before I killed someone. But Zimmerman, how did you manage to get a gun through security? Did you get royally drunk before hand?”
That George was obsessing was quite true.
He spent a long time in the dark park, avoiding light from security lamps. He remembered other dark times. The conspiracies that had surrounded him. His mind raced in many directions all at once. ”She wants to see me tomorrow. How about that?”
He took the crumpled note and tried to read it this time in the dark.
“What could she possibly want?” he asked himself.
Whenever he experienced joy he felt sadness. It exhausted him. From a picnic table to a bench and back again. The silence was deafening, and the night air was stifling. A desert wind had stolen most of the moisture. He vehemently rejected the notion that he was in love, passionately in love. Too many questions were left unanswered.
And if someone had suggested that Anna’s note was the beginning of something…Jesus! What did it mean? Does she really want to meet with me? Preposterous. And then there was Angela. Wasn’t he engaged to Angela? Higgs was right. Anna was making a fool of him.
The cracking of a twig caused him to jump. A man whose face was hard to distinguish sat down beside him, but George didn’t need to see his face to recognize Faust. “I thought that I’d find you here,” said Faust.
It was the first time that they’d encountered each other since George was shot. Faust clearly understood the affect that he had on George and the havoc he was causing.
“I heard you met Zimmerman.”
“Stop! No more of this. Faust, I don’t need you here.”
“George, scuttlebutt has it….”
“I don’t care. Just go away. You’ve stalked me and tried to kill me. Enough.”
“I’m not afraid you.”
“You’re a piece of shit. Mother fucker!”
“If you hadn’t been so obsessed with me maybe you wouldn’t have tried to kill yourself. The truth is Anna doesn’t love you. You’re not worthy of her. Settle on Angela. Angela’s a bitch, and you deserve each other.”
“What is there for me to be jealous about?”
“I don’t understand you Faust.”
“George, it doesn’t make any difference to me. Marry Angela. It’s set, the date, the church, and the flowers. All set.”
“Because I deserve more?”
“More what? More grief. Everyone knows what you’re about. Everyone has read your letter.”
“Letter? No, no, not my personal letter!” cried George.
And as he and Faust approached Mrs. Ramsey’s house George noticed a large, noisy crowd on the porch. People were laughing and arguing. On the surface they all seemed to be celebrating except Sam. All were drinking, and many were drunk. “Be strong,” muttered Faust
“To Zimmerman!” someone yelled.
“Poor old Zimmerman.” Sam looked as if he was going the funeral of his best friend.
“A toast,” announced Kitty. “To a better world!”
George adopted the mood of the crowd. But he was sensitive to Sam’s mood and the morass the investigator was in. He could see that his friend’s equilibrium had been shaken. He spotted Cesar. He saw how Sam glared at the Mafioso and thought it was a mistake to be so obvious. It was about then that Sam thought I must kill the bastard.
George felt drawn to Cesar and shared center stage with him. The rest of the crowd anticipated having a good time.
Mrs. Ramsey tried to keep the noise down. Only she too was rather drunk. She babbled something about her neighbors calling the police. Cesar would pay off the police.
Michael and Potato Chip arrived together. Feeling much better Michael wouldn’t leave until George showed up. He’d settled in a lawn chair and was joined by Charlie. Lulu dropped by later.
Then Zimmerman turned up, only everyone except for George failed to recognize him. Zimmerman asked for champagne rather than beer.
Like the man on the street Sam suspected Cesar; and now with Zimmerman’s suicide he had all the proof that he felt he needed. But to Sam Cesar’s presence was tantamount to treason. The other problem raised by the situation was no less troubling. Given Sam’s friendship with George, how in the world was he going to quit? He wasn’t a quitter.
“It’s the best; only the best will do!” Mrs. Ramsey reassured George.
“To Zimmerman! A better world! Progress!” shouted Cesar offering a second toast.
“Look at Michael. Poor Michael. He’s completely worn out,” Mrs. Ramsey continued. ”He won’t stay in bed. I’m glad you’re back George. Maybe you can have some influence over Michael.”
When George asked Michael about how wise it was for him to be out he explained that his strength surprised him. He talked about how he had expected to be bedridden.